Deep-pocketed hedge-fund boss Steve Cohen is expected to bid on the Mets when the process begins in earnest this week, with initial offers due by the close of business Thursday, sources said.
The Mets have been on the market since February, when the Wilpons’ deal with Cohen that valued the franchise at a baseball-record $2.6 billion fell apart.
“What this deadline essentially means is people have to show their cards, put a number down, and then the negotiating begins,” said a person familiar with the process. “And then we’ll see who’s still standing after it goes around a few times.”
A spokesman for Cohen declined to comment.
Sources say six groups have shown some level of interest in the Mets in recent weeks, though not all of them have been publicly identified. The sale process is being coordinated by Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co., who has repeatedly declined to comment.
As the process enters the next phase, all eyes are on Cohen, who already owns an 8% share of the team. When the deal fell through in February, he said, “I gave it my best shot” and added that he was “looking forward to a higher bid for the team.”
But the Great Neck native also has never said publicly that he would not take part in any future bidding.
Thursday’s deadline for non-binding bids begins the process of trying to wrangle the most money out of each group for a New York baseball team officially on the market for the first time since the group involving Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon bought the team in 1980.
The team’s ownership structure has changed a few times since then. Wilpon increased his stake to 50% in 1986, then bought out Doubleday in 2002. The Wilpons sold minority shares of the club in 2012 after the fallout of their losses in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme and now are believed to own about two-thirds of the franchise.
It is the first time in 40 years that a major-league baseball franchise in New York has been on the open market, which is why sources still believe the final figure will wind up in the vicinity of $2 billion, even in a world under siege by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the known suitors include a group headed by celebrity couple Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez. They have partnered with a pair of horse racing buddies: Vitaminwater co-founder Mike Repole and multibillionaire Brooklyn native Vinnie Viola, who have committed up to $250 million, and additional investors raised via a J.P. Morgan banker.
Also confirmed to be interested are Josh Harris and David Blitzer, owners of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils. They have shown interest in expanding their sports repertoire, having recently bought a small stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers.